A Culture of Health

Telemedicine: Digital Innovation to Expand Access to High-Quality Health Care

Ontario needs to make telemedicine a core part of how health care is delivered in this province. Telemedicine expands care to people who cannot access it, makes it easier to access for those who find getting health care inconvenient or inefficient, such as seniors, and drastically streamlines services to make them more efficient.

 

Delivering on the promise of universal health care is challenging. Hundreds of thousands of Ontarians live in areas without convenient access to a physician or medical facilities. Wait times in emergency rooms and clinics across the province, while drastically improved since we formed government in 2003, still pose an obstacle to people getting the care in a timely manner. Moreover, with an aging population, seniors who cannot or will not make the trip to a medical facility are always at risk of not getting the care they need from a physician.

 

Minister Hoskins and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care have already done a great deal of good work in this area. Partnering with the Ontario Telemedicine Network, a non-profit organization (Their website: otn.ca), the province has started to revolutionize Ontario's health care system, reducing hospital admissions, transforming primary care and expanding home and community care across Ontario.

 

OTN has dozens of successful pilots already. One on telehomecare provides daily remote monitoring of patients from home, along with weekly health coaching from a specially-trained clinician is underway in southern Ontario. In 2014, OTN reported 70% reduction in hospitalizations six months after discharge compared to pre-Telehomecare usage and a 53% reduction in emergency department visits six months after discharge compared to pre-Telehomecare usage in the Telehomecare program delivered by the William Osler Health System (see their press release here: https://otn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/otn-press-release-2014-11-11-diabetes-month-en.pdf).

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Idea No. 263